Persian-speakers will generally greet someone in “peace,” perhaps using the formal Arabic greeting السَلامُ عَلَيكُم (al-salāmu ʿalaykum, pronounced “as-salamu alaykum,” meaning “Peace be upon you”), with the response being وَ عَلَيكم السَلام (wa ʿalaykum al-salām, “and upon you be peace) but more likely they will offer and respond simply سَلام (salam, sounding more like “se-lam”), or “peace.” You may hear a هالو (hālū) or آلو (ālū), more commonly used on the phone than in person. They may also “welcome” someone by saying خوُش آمَد or خوُشامَد (khwush-āmad, pronounced “khosh-amad”); خوش آمدید (khwush āmadīd) is the plural and/or more formal form. This is important because it’s an example of the “silent vav,” wherein something that is spelled وُ (“wu” or “vu”) is glossed into an “o” sound. We will see this again later. Persian also borrows مَرْحَباً (marḥaban, marḥabā) from Arabic but, while it can be used to mean “welcome,” it more often means something like “bravo!” or bless you!”
The Persian “goodbye” is usually خُدا حافِظ (khudā ḥāfiẓ, “kho-da-ha-fez”), meaning “God guard/preserve (you),” khudā being the pre-Islamic Persian word for “lord” or “God” as used in the Zoroastrian religion to refer to Ahura Mazda, combined with the Arabic ḥāfiẓ or “guardian, preserver.” A more strictly Persian, but less common, form of the same phrase is (khudā nigahdar, “kho-da-ne-gah-dar”) replacing the Arabic loanword with the Persian for “guardian.” Other options are the Arabic loanword وَداع (wadāʿ) and بِدُرود (bi-durūd, “be-do-rud”), both meaning “farewell.”
We’ll talk about time-sensitive phrases like “good morning” and “good night” later.